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S. Korea's self-sufficiency in raw materials tops 25 pct in 2009

All Headlines 11:00 April 18, 2010

SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's self-sufficiency in key raw materials moved up to 25.1 percent of demand in 2009 thanks to greater output from overseas mines invested by local companies, a government report said Sunday.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said production from mines owned or invested by South Korean companies moved up 2.0 percentage points last year compared to 2008.

Last year resource poor South Korea imported US$21.50 billion worth of the six strategic materials vital for keeping its industries moving forward.

It said with the exception of copper, the country's self sufficiency in bituminous coal, iron, zinc and nickel all increased, while the first ever production of uranium also contributed to improved numbers.

The stakes purchase in Canada's Denison Mines by Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) last year allowed the country to produce 1.1 percent of its uranium requirements last year.

Self-sufficiency in coal, iron and copper reached 43.7 percent, 14.2 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively, with the numbers hitting 33.8 percent and 32.6 percent for zinc and nickel.

Copper output compared to domestic demand fell from 10.0 percent in 2008 to 5.1 percent in 2009.

The ministry added that the gains are noteworthy because last year's worldwide economic crisis caused South Korean companies to withhold investment as they had trouble financing arrangements for purchases or investment in stakes. Outbound investment fell off 45 percent on-year to $10.26 billion.

It said that while 51 percent of all reported raw material production businesses were in Asian and Oceanian countries such as Indonesia, Mongolia, Australia and China, Africa emerged as potential partner in this field.

Local companies invested $296 million in Madagascar and $238 million in Niger.

The latest report said that coal, copper and nickel accounted for a large percentage of accumulated investments made by local companies in the past, although uranium investments soared to $314 million last year or 30.6 percent of all investments made in the cited year.

The government report, meanwhile, said South Korean companies recovered a record high $397 million from investments made into key raw materials. The total, fueled by more production and increased dividend earnings, represents a 15 percent gain from the year before. Most of the earnings came from bituminous coal production.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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